Nikita: Nothing “Covert” About This One

Posted: August 24, 2010 by RA in "The Media", Television
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All month, The CW has been teasing the arrival of Nikita, its upcoming “erotic espionage thriller.” Here to give the “plucky female heroine” of USA’s Covert Affairs a run for the dollar bills stuffed down her bra, Nikki is a rebooted version of previous Hot-Chicks-With-Guns favorite La Femme Nikita. Always loved that show… When will folks realize that giving a tawdry product a French name only makes it sleazier. What’s the old adage? Ahh, yes… “La Fleur de Sexe by any other name would probably smell a little less like the laundry hamper at Rumps & Pumps.”

Anyway, who is Nikita? She apparently was an assasin who worked for The Government™, was Betrayed by her Bosses™, and has now Gone Rogue™ in a sexxxy quest for revenge.

Sound familiar? I can imagine everyone from Tom Cruise to Angie Jolie being Impossibly Salty about this wack-ass storyline. To be fair, Nikita is based on Luc Besson’s 1990 film La Femme Nikita, so this genre has been around for eons. (And you wonder why stupid, obese people in the midwest don’t trust the government.)

But I digress. With Covert Affairs and this dreck battling for airtime, I’ve gotta wonder if we’re witnessing a gleeful return to early-’90s Titty-Action fare. At least in 1991, they went full-tilt with the sexploitative tone, often with hilariously brilliant consequences. Eve of Destruction really didn’t try to be a girl-power moment. And Steel and Lace was the literal embodiment of the HCWG genre, right down to the tagline: “She’s tough. She’s tender. She’s all woman. And all machine.” 

Which is one of the reasons I’m willing to forgive Nikita 2.0. Sure, its teaser is set to Rihanna’s tepid “Rock Star 101”, a song that hopes, wishes, and prays you take it seriously as a Riot Grrrl!! anthem. But from wardrobe to the brilliantly male-gazey camera work, they make the chick on Covert Affairs look like Olivia Benson. 

And then there are the print ads. They’re all pretty clichéd, but the one above takes the muthafuckin’ cake. She’s in a lingerie-like catsuit contraption [] made of leather [], in some high-as-fuck heels [], and her ass almost to the camera [], with a tattoo on her thigh []… a tattoo of a scorpion []. And wait a second… Oh, fuck… that chair! It’s made… IT’S MADE OF GUNS!!! [][][]

This shit is so obviously taking the HCWG mantle and running with it, I’m willing to bet my lifetime subscription to Jugs and Ammo that it’s completely intentional. I can’t even be mad at that. But at the same time, as a rational adult with a brain, I don’t appreciate being pandered to or having my intelligence insulted. Sure, not every female action character can be Sarah Connor or Kara “Starbuck” Thrace, but I really don’t expect this thing to do particularly well… and not just because it’s on The CW.

The approach they’re taking with this show illustrates just how out-of-touch and stuck in old habits programming execs still are. I mean, I appreciate a hot woman as much as the next red-blooded male, but I don’t know if my “meh” reaction to Nikita‘s promos speaks more of my great sophistication or gross depravity. I suspect it’s probably somewhere down the middle, and this is why I expect them to fail. 

It was one thing to expect to lure viewers through titilating concepts in the ’90s, but that age of innocence was almost two decades ago. The internet has made pure, unimaginable filth a mere (one-handed) mouse click away, and pop culture has had to adapt by becoming uniformly racier. With all this, who the hell is going to devote 30 minutes to an hour of their lives to some show, in the hope of catching some FCC-approved sideboob? Show me  a plot, and maybe your numbers will actually do something. Or you could give viewers the best of both worlds — write an actual plot and tease with le sexe.

Oops. Kill that last suggestion. You’ll never beat these guys at that game.

  1. IAS says:

    Watch the pilot and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. A twist at the end makes the plot pretty good. Cheers!

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